Today I was chatting with a German friend who is in law enforcement, and our conversation found its way to the hottest topic in Lubbock: red light cameras. In Germany, they have had such cameras for a long time, especially along the autobahn to catch speeders.
According to my friend, all of the cameras here must take two pictures, or the ticket can be contested and thrown out when the request for the second picture yields nothing. Furthermore, the picture must include an identifiable picture of the driver of the car, who is the one that will receive the ticket. This is a very important point, because in the Lubbock system, the owner of the car is liable, not the person driving it.
Even better, if the person driving the car does not match the file photo of the person who owns the car, an officer will be sent to the home of the car’s owner to ask the owner if they know the person driving the car. If the owner does not recognize the driver (or does not admit to recognizing them), the matter is dropped.
The German traffic camera system is not perfect. There are still speed traps (which are successfully contested from time to time) along with red light cameras at intersections designed only to generate revenue. However, the extra effort made to identify the driver of the car and the extra contact with a human officer are both features of the German system that I like.
This business of a civil liability for the owner of the car “no matter what” in the Lubbock system is pretty ridiculous. If we are going to have these cameras, then we must guarantee that the process is equitable and just.